2019 – On her 61st birthday, Joan Jett meets Eric Leefe!
(Ignore May 1, 2017 publish date. This was published on September 26, 2019)
If you’re not familiar with my friend Eric, his story is here: (https://iaintjustmusic.bobleafe.com/?p=6242). As you can read in that story, he met Rick Derringer last year. This year, it’s Joan. Who will it be next year?
Five years after he told me he had maybe a year or two to live, he’s still going strong-ish and we had another interesting little adventure last Sunday, 9/22/19.
Sometime in the early 80s, his band opened for Joan at My Father’s Place on Long Island. 3 or 4 years ago, he met her backstage at Nassau Coliseum when Joan opened for the Who.
He wanted to see her again last Sunday, when she was scheduled to play at BergenPac in nearby Englewood, NJ…………PLUS, it was her 61st birthday.
Carol Ross is a friend of ours who manages Tommy James and the Shondells (Tommy’s an old friend of Eric and his father – Bob Leefe! – who recorded some of Tommy’s hits back in the day). Carol is someone I’ve known professionally since the 70s, when she was KISS’ publicist (among others). She also knows Kenny Laguna (Joan’s manager/best friend/mentor/producer/keyboard player and a hundred other things) quite well, so she arranged for us to attend the show and say hello to Joan backstage.
The main thing Eric wanted from me was a shot with Joan – just as we had done with others.
We met her before the show in a backstage storage area that was quite dark and wouldn’t you know it – my flash wouldn’t go off……..twice! I tried one more time and it worked, but by then the smiles had faded and they both did NOT look good. You can’t nail down a musician before a show for longer than that, so I did what I could in Photoshop to make something of one of the nearly-black images. They look good in this one, but there’s little color or light to work with, so it’s not exactly up to my standards (but it’ll do).
BTW – I know why the flash didn’t go off…………blame the bright doorway behind them.
No such obstacle existed when I took the shot of Kenny, Joan and Carol and that turned out to be the best shot of the night. It’s an especially good shot of Joan on her birthday (he says modestly) – the kind of shot I would have run right over to People magazine or Rolling Stone 30-35 years ago.
On to the show………
The wheelchair section at BergenPac is in the last row of the orchestra. If you look at the below seating chart in the furthest two corners from the stage, you’ll see “W C” (WheelChair). I’ve circled our location. The regular seats there are ripped out and there was one folding chair for me and a space for Eric’s wheelchair………..both right against the back wall.
The audience stood for 90% of the show and Eric can’t do that, so he saw almost nothing. Shooting from 32 rows back and with that many people in the way is no picnic, so I did what I could just to show him what was going on onstage:
I guess things balanced out for him because the last time he saw her, he was in the wings onstage, so……….one good, one bad. He’s happy he got to meet her before the show, but he REALLY wanted to see her perform.
We’re going back to BergenPac on 11-1-19 to see Tommy James and the Shondells and Felix Cavaliere’s Rascals (courtesy of Carol). His connection with Tommy should get him a better viewing situation.
To me, this night kind of felt like what I used to have fun doing for a living (minus the heavy camera bag). I also haven’t worn one of these in a while: